Charles and Veronica (who also goes by Vera) were both raised in Nigeria and immigrated to Athens, Greece, in 1991. They had five children together; their oldest son, Francis, was born in Lagos, Nigeria, and stayed there with his grandparents after his parents moved to Greece. Their four younger sons — Thanasis, Giannis, Kostas and Alex — were born and raised in Athens. They did not hold citizenship in any country for many years, but Giannis was granted Greek citizenship in May 2013, shortly before being drafted into the NBA. His older brother Thanasis moved to the U.S. to play in the NBA’s D-League that same year, and their parents and youngest brothers, who were 14 and 11 at the time, followed in 2014 after obtaining their visas.
The Antetokounmpos are both talented and tight-knit — so much so that they were the subject of the 2022 Disney+ biopic Rise.
“From the beginning of our time, I’ve trusted my kids of whatever they’re doing, hoping that one day this will work out well and at the same time, watching them playing, coming to NBA, moving all around the world, championship and everything, I was saying, ‘This is going to take us to a greater place in the future,’ ” Veronica told Yahoo! Sports. “Then, this is where we are now today. We are very amazing."
The family is made up of serious athletes, too: Charles and Francis played professional soccer, the other four boys were drafted into the NBA and Veronica was a high jumper. Giannis, affectionately known as the “Greek Freak,” is considered one of the best power forwards in the NBA.
“The journey has been unbelievable,” he told The Red Bulletin. “My parents believed in my dream more than I did.”
Charles died of a heart attack in September 2017 at the age of 54, a few years before Giannis earned NBA MVP Awards in 2019 and 2020 and three of his sons won NBA championships. (Giannis and Thanasis won with the Milwaukee Bucks in 2021 and Kostas won with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2020.)
“It’s tough. Losing someone you love is tough,” Giannis told NBA.com two weeks after his father's death. “Losing someone who’s been there since Day 1. Especially for our family, because we’re so close.”
Veronica has remained close with her sons and is a mainstay at NBA games. In 2017, Giannis told TIME, “She’s been a colleague right next to me.”
Who are Charles and Veronica Antetokounmpo? Here's everything to know about Giannis Antetokounmpo’s parents and their relationship with the NBA star.
In addition to Giannis, Charles and Veronica have four other sons: Francis, Thanasis, Kostas and Alex.
Of the Antetokounmpo boys, all but Francis were drafted into the NBA. Francis, however, played professional soccer in Greece. Three have NBA Championship titles, too — Kostas with the L.A. Lakers in 2020 and Thanasis and Giannis both with the Milwaukee Bucks in 2021. The brothers’ successful athletic pursuits, their unique ascent to stardom and their close bond inspired the 2022 Disney+ biopic Rise.
“[The movie is] not just about me. It’s about the sacrifice that my parents made early in their life in order for us to be in the position that we are today," Giannis told the New York Post in 2022.
Charles and Veronica are also grandparents. Giannis and his partner, Mariah Riddlesprigger, share two children, sons Liam Charles and Maverick Shai, and have a third on the way. Veronica told Milwaukee’s WISN 12 News that welcoming her first grandchild in 2020 was a “special gift.”
Charles and Veronica left their home in Lagos, Nigeria, in 1991 and moved to the Sepolia neighborhood of Athens. Their firstborn son, Francis, remained in Lagos with his grandparents, while the other four Antetokounmpo boys were born and raised in Athens.
As undocumented immigrants, the pair struggled to find steady incomes, cobbling together money through odd jobs and labor work. Giannis told TIME that his life in Athens was “a daily struggle,” saying they “had to hustle every day to provide a plate of food on our table.”
Up until 2012, Giannis and Thanasis would sell goods on the street to help supplement their parents’ incomes. In their home, Charles and Veronica’s four sons slept in one bed while the couple slept in a small den behind “a curtain,” Giannis recalled to The New York Times.
“Those moments back then, they were beautiful, man,” Giannis told ESPN in 2018. “Going through the struggle and making it out of it and seeing your family doing good now, it's unbelievable. I remember those moments, and I'm happy I went through those times.”
In order to convince 13-year-old Giannis to join the semi-pro club Filathlitikos, junior club coach Spiros Velliniatis told Charles and Veronica that he would find them jobs that paid 800 euros per month, according to The New York Times. "I knew that Nigerians don’t care about basketball,” Velliniatis said. “They care about soccer. You need to bribe them, the parents. Otherwise, they will not be interested.”
While growing up in Greece, Giannis and his brothers stayed close to their Nigerian roots.
“I grew up in a Nigerian home,” Giannis told Andscape. “Obviously, I was born in Greece and went to school in Greece. But at the end of the day when I go home, there is no Greek culture. It’s straight-up Nigerian culture. It’s about discipline, it’s about respecting your elders, having morals.”
At home, Veronica spoke to her sons in Igbo, one of four official Nigerian languages. Charles grew up speaking another of Nigeria’s more than 500 languages and dialects.
In 2015, Giannis got a Nigerian passport. “It’s important. It’s part of who I am. Both of my parents are Nigerian. They wanted me to get it. I wanted to have it, so I got it,” he told the outlet.
The NBA star took a trip to Nigeria with his mom during the summer of 2023.
The Antetokounmpo boys come from an athletic family: Charles was a professional soccer player and Veronica was a high jumper.
Though Charles hoped that all of his boys would follow in his cleats, he used his soccer skills to improve their basketball talents, including practicing footwork. Charles was especially proud of how Giannis led his brothers both on and off the court.
“The way that he mentors all of his brothers is amazing,” the father of five told the National Basketball Players Association of Giannis in 2016. “He will do anything for them. He will spare nothing to make sure that they have exactly what they need. He teaches them about basketball, about life, about priorities. It’s really great to see all of the things that I am passing on to Giannis he is passing on to them.”
Giannis' father died of a heart attack in Milwaukee on Sept. 29, 2017. He was 54.
On the day of Charles’ death, Giannis and his entire family — including Veronica, whom Giannis called “strong” and “a beast” — channeled their grief on the basketball court at the Bucks' downtown facility.
“There was never a day in my life that I called him and he wasn’t there for me,” Giannis told NBA.com. “I could be sitting on the couch being lazy and then I’d ask him to get me some food. And he’d always be, ‘Yeah. Yeah, I’ll do it for you.’ Always at the game, never missed a game since the day that he came here. And he was happy. Really happy. For all of the kids.”
Shortly after his father’s death, Giannis said that it was "okay to be sad" but that the family was getting through their grief together.
“We loved our dad. My mom loved her husband. But at the end of the day, I think, he did what he was supposed to do in this world,” he said. "He had five kids and raised us right. That’s the most important thing. I hope one day when I leave this world too that I can leave to my kids the impact that my dad is leaving now.”
In 2019, Giannis shared a throwback photo of himself and his dad with the caption, "Happy Father's Day! I miss you ❤️.”
Three years later, Giannis and his family founded the Charles Antetokounmpo Family Foundation, a “global social impact foundation” aiming to help refugees, immigrants, youth, widows and athletes by supporting organizations like the Milwaukee Diaper Mission and the International Rescue Committee.